(This post, the second of two, I originally wrote in my journal about a decade ago. I went searching for it over the weekend when I was thinking about its subject. One of my readers in particular will know exactly who I'm talking about here—you know who you are.)
“Tell me you can come over.” Angelo's voice rasped low over the phone, early this morning. “I need you today.”
Right. I would turn him down. As if. “I need to hop in the shower,” I told him. “Can you give me a half hour?”
“I need to get in the shower too, bud,” When Angelo talks in that way gay men imagine straight guys speak when they’re being casual with each other, it’s totally convincing. I never smirk at his buds, bros, or dogs. “Clean up and make myself reeeeeeal pretty for you.”
No words could have been more calculated to make me hop in the shower more quickly.
Angelo, The Handsomest Man In Detroit, has an arrangement with me. Every two or three weeks, he’ll call on the days I’m most likely available to play with him, and he’ll invite me over. He’s not a planner; we can’t set a date for three days later and meet then. He wants me when he wants me. Thirty minutes after his call, I’ll pull into the driveway of his tiny house in the east suburbs, walk in through his open back door, and find him either in the shower, singing to himself in an off-tune voice, or sprawled on the bed in musky gym clothes. Just hanging, as he likes to say. Hey, bro. I was just hanging, waiting for you.
Then we fuck.
It’s our standard practice, though there’s nothing routine about the sex—that’s outstanding enough to keep me going back. I love the broad planes of his chest, his porn-star good looks, the deep blue of his eyes, the little cleft in his chin; I can’t help but admire the perfect roundness of his ass, or the way he responds when my hand drops to his buttocks and squeezes. He’s a loud lover, a man who likes his pleasures heated and his appetites addressed instantly. I might say no on occasion when other regular sexual partners of mine call, but not to Angelo. Not to The Handsomest Man In Detroit. Him I make time for.
I expected our usual agenda when I pulled into his driveway today and turned off the ignition, but before I could open the door, Angelo padded around the corner in workout gear, his hands making a circular motion, telling me to roll down my window. “Hey,” I said.
He wore a three-day growth of stubble, dark blond and gray. Instantly, when his full lips pulled into a grimace, I knew something was wrong. “My dad is here,” he whispered.
“Oh.” That put a damper on my anticipation.
“He stopped by just a couple of minutes ago.”
“Hey, that’s okay,” I said. “We can do this another time. Really.”
“No.” His hand shot out to clutch my forearm. “I don’t want you to go. I just . . . I don’t know what to introduce you as.”
His hand on my arm was a subtle reminder of why I enjoy being with him—his grasp was firm. He was close enough that I could smell the Dial he’d used in the shower. At the same time, all I could think was, We’ve been fucking for two years and he doesn’t know my name? “Rob,” I said at last.
He gave me the look of patience that people reserve for the slow and the hard of hearing. “I know your name, dumb-ass,” he said. “I meant, I didn’t know how to say why you were here. Maybe I’ll tell him you came over to take me to breakfast? Yeah, that could work. Only, he might invite himself to eat with us. Did you eat?”
I could only stare. Angelo was breaking our routine on so many levels. He was actually appearing outside his house, he was introducing me to family and talking about them going to a meal with us . . . where the hell was this going? At the same time, I was amused and intrigued enough by the situation to say, “Sure, that’s fine.”
I’d barely let the words out of my mouth than Angelo was back around the corner of the house saying, “Hey, Dad! This is Rob! He was kind of going to take me out to breakfast.” I found myself getting out of the car and wandering around the back, where I shook the hand of an old Polish man with an enormous waxed mustache, who greeted me and promptly went back to examining the transformer for some low-voltage outdoor lights. Angelo put his hands on his hips, sucked in his upper lip, and listened to the electrical advice his dad gave him.
It was wrong. All wrong. I don’t know where Dad Of Handsomest Man In Detroit might have learned about electricity, but I do know for a fact that you don’t measure electrical load by multiplying 120 volts by 12 volts, dividing by 15, and asserting that you can get “Ninety-six, probably a hunnert little lamps on this line.”
“I don’t think that’s the way it works,” I said, but when I saw Angelo strutting around and kicking at stray pebbles, his head nodding, I knew that he was simply tolerating his dad’s advice the way I put up with my own father, when he’s on a verbal tear about things I already know, like how storm windows save money. I kept my mouth shut, and let the old guy rant on about where the zinnias should be planted, and how the water hawthorn’s leaves looked limp, and how amazing it was that goldfish could live all through the winter in that frozen pond and still be around come spring.
From time to time, Angelo would look at me with apology, but his attention was on his father; he was full of uh-huhs and yes sirs and of courses as we slowly walked around the garden, looking at the new pond Angelo had dug to expand his water garden. “Let me show you the lighting system I’m installing,” Angelo said. He turned and jogged back to the house, his moccasins scuffing the stony path. “I got it at Home Depot yesterday,” he called.
Once the back screen door had slammed shut, Angelo’s dad poked at the hole in the ground with the stick he’d been carrying around to illustrate his points. “So,” he finally said. “Are you dating my son, or what?”
“Oh gosh.” I was genuinely caught off-guard by the question. Every response that sprang to mind was of the off-color variety. No, I’m just bitch-fucking him. “I’m just . . . taking him out to breakfast,” I said at last, trying to look at anywhere but the man’s face. Then I realized how evasive that seemed, and met his frank gaze square on. “We’re just friends, you know.”
“Breakfast sounds like a date to me. Doesn’t that sound like a date to you?”
“It’s just breakfast.”
“Angelo’s a good boy,” he said, pointing the stick in my direction. “He deserves a good man in his life.” I felt on the defensive. Was he saying I wasn’t a good enough man for his son? Or was he implying that, you know, I should be taking Angelo to expensive dinners instead of cheap-ass breakfast at the local diner? “He deserves a real good man.” I nodded sagely into the back of my fist, and pretended I appreciated the gravity of the moment. Though really, all I wanted to do was press the rewind button on the remote control of my life, and insert a new movie starting at the moment Angelo had called, an hour earlier. Oh, I’m sorry. I’m kind of busy this morning. Maybe next time?
The back door slammed, and Angelo came out, his short legs sprinting over the driveway. “I’d better let you boys have your breakfast,” his dad said.
“Are you hungry?” Angelo asked. “Did you eat?” Again, his eyes were full of apology as he glanced at me. I really liked him at that moment, inviting his dad out to the imaginary breakfast. He’d probably expected his father to decline—as he did—but it was still sweet of him to ask. And to assume I’d play along with it.
“No, no, I’d better get going and let you boys have your fun.” He stuck out his hand to shake mine. “Nice meeting you, Bob.”
“It was great,” I said, not correcting him.
“I’ll walk you to the car,” Angelo said. I’d been prepared to follow, but he grabbed my shoulder as they strolled by, and murmured in my ear, “Go in the bedroom and get comfortable.”
I kicked off my sandals once inside, and rested on the bed. My heels dug into the metal railing of the frame while I waited; I heard them exchanging goodbyes outside the bedroom window, and then a few moments later, the sound of the dad’s truck slowly pulling past. The back screen crashed shut, followed by the slow, soft catch of the inner door. I heard one, then a second moccasin hit the utility room floor. And then there came the sound of Angelo’s bare feet padding across the wood floor as he came to me.
“I am really sorry about that,” he said. “It was really unexpected. I was over at their house yesterday and I said, come by anytime, you don’t have to phone, and I really didn’t expect for him to take me up on it so soon.”
“It’s no problem,” I told him. “Your dad’s a nice guy.”
He stretched and yawned. As his arms flew up, so did his shirt. He tugged it over his head in a smooth motion, and shook out his hair. “I’ll make it up to you.”
“No, really,” I said, from the bed. “It’s no problem.”
“No,” he said, standing in front of me. His thumbs hooked inside the waistband of his jeans; his fingers fumbled for the metal button. As the denim slid down over his thighs and calves, they made the slightest of sounds. He pulled first one leg, then the other out, and tossed the jeans aside. He stood totally naked, an arm's-length away. “I mean, I’ll make it up to you, buddy.” Then he shoved me back onto the bed, one of his knees between my legs as his full weight landed on top of me. His soft lips met mine, and his tongue slid into and out of my mouth. “For being so nice,” he murmured.
His hands slid under my t-shirt until his thumbs and forefingers found my nipples. “Okay,” I said, trying to catch my breath.
So I let him.